Sacred Games is an Indian web television series based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same name. The first Netflix original series in India, it is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap who produced it under their banner Phantom Films. The novel was adapted by Varun Grover, Smita Singh, and Vasant Nath. Kelly Luegenbiehl, Erik Barmack and Motwane served as the executive producers. Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) is a troubled police officer in Mumbai who receives a phone call from gangster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who tells him to save the city within 25 days. The series chronicles the events that follow.
Other cast members include Radhika Apte, Girish Kulkarni, Neeraj Kabi, Jeetendra Joshi, Rajshri Deshpande, Karan Wahi, Sukhmani Sadana, Aamir Bashir, Jatin Sarna, Elnaaz Norouzi, Pankaj Tripathi, Amey Wagh, and Kubbra Sait. The development of Sacred Games started after Erik Barmack, the Vice-president of Netflix contacted Motwane to create Indian content for the platform in 2014. They opted to adapt Chandra’s novel in the local Indian language, to which Motwane agreed. After the script was completed, Motwane asked Kashyap to co-direct; Motwane directed the sequences involving Singh, while Kashyap directed Gaitonde’s. Swapnil Sonawane was the director of photography for Motwane, while Sylvester Fonseca and Aseem Bajaj filmed the scenes directed by Kashyap. Anshuman Singh’s Casting House casted for the same. Aarti Bajaj was the editor, and Alokananda Dasgupta composed the background score.
The first four episodes of Sacred Games premiered on 30 June 2018, with the full season of eight episodes released on Netflix on 5 July 2018 across 191 countries. It has subtitles in more than 20 languages. It received mostly positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for the performances and writing. The performances of Nawaz, Saif, Pankaj & Joshi were highly praised by the critics as well as audiences. The second season of Sacred Games premiered on 15 August 2019. Although the second season ended at a cliffhanger, the crew members have not confirmed the third season. Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, both, have hinted that there might not be a third season.
Plot: Sartaj Singh is a troubled Mumbai Police inspector who seeks validation from a police force he nevertheless loathes for its corruption. He receives an anonymous phone call from Ganesh Gaitonde, a notorious crime lord who has been missing for 16 years. He tells Singh to save the city in 25 days, which initiates a chain of events that burrows deep into India’s dark underworld. In the journey, Singh is helped by Research and Analysis Wing officer Anjali Mathur while flashbacks detail Gaitonde’s origins and how he rose to power as crime lord of Mumbai. The first season follows Singh trying to uncover clues about Gaitonde’s past while also learning of a connection between Gaitonde and his father.
In season two, Gaitonde’s story continues in flashbacks, which again affects things in the present for Sartaj. Sartaj eventually uncovers the existence of an ashram his father once was part of and learns of their apocalyptic plans to create a new world devoid of conflicts. In a flashback, Gaitonde’s meeting with Guruji is depicted, along with how he became part of the ashram and his activities with them. Also explored is how Gaitonde was at the same time deployed in Africa by RAW officer Ms. Yadav who tries to keep Gaitonde’s rival and archenemy Suleiman Isa alive – much to the latter’s dismay – so she can eventually capture and kill the dangerous extremist Shahid Khan, who also turns out to be Sartaj’s cousin and one who harbors plans with ashram to wipe out India. Two seasons, each consisting of eight episodes, have been aired. The first season premiered on 5 July 2018 on Netflix, while the second season was released on 15 August 2019.